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ASK THE JUDGE

Clearing Ghosts of Credit Past

February 04, 1989|JUDGE B. TAM NOMOTO | B. Tam Nomoto, an Orange County Municipal Court judge, answers readers' questions about the law. Ask the Judge runs every other Saturday in Orange County Life

Q. For several years, as the sole support of my children, my income was not enough to meet our needs, resulting in late payments to creditors. I never defaulted on anything--never had anything repossessed and now, what is not paid off entirely is at least current.

My income has more than doubled in the last five years, and all I want is a credit card so that I can write checks without a hassle--and I can't get one. How long will I have to pay for a previously poor credit history?

J.L.

Tustin

A. Both the federal government and California regulate consumer credit reporting agencies. It is a little unclear from your letter, but it appears that your poor credit rating is due to late payments which resulted in collection. If this is the case, those delinquent accounts will appear on your credit report for seven years either under the federal or the California law. If your late payments caused your creditors to sue you and/or obtain a judgment against you, these facts would appear on your credit report for 7 years or for the period that a lawsuit could be filed against you, which ever is longer, under both laws.

As you know, the ultimate decision as to whether you will obtain a credit card is with the institution issuing it. You might contact the one whose credit card you desire and find out what would you would have to do to qualify.

Q. My husband and I separated in February of 1986. He filed for divorce but it isn't final yet. My husband has still not filed a 1985 tax return. I have filed a single return for every year after 1985 but I understand that I am still liable for the 1985 tax return as much as he. I wasn't working during 1985 and I don't have his records or information to file an accurate single return.

I paid a $1,000 security deposit to the owners of the condo I am renting. They placed the deposit into an interest-bearing account in their names but with my Social Security number as tax ID. Can the IRS take that money?

M.J.

Tustin

A. Yes, the IRS could attach the $1,000 since your are still being identified as having an interest in it through the use of your tax ID.

You should really attempt to protect yourself from any further liability for his 1985 tax return. I would suggest that you contact the IRS Taxpayer Service which could assist you in the preparation of a "married but filing as a separate person" tax return. The Taxpayer Service phone number is toll free: 1-800-642-1040. Good luck!

Got a question for Judge Nomoto? Write Ask the Judge, Orange County Life, The Times, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, Calif. 92626. Questions of broadest interest will be answered in her column.

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